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TRACK LIST: 1. Dawn 5:10 2. Rain on the Moon 7:44 3. The Brook 11:21 4. Loneliness 4:09 5. The Story of Nobody 17:53 6. Dusk 4:20 LINEUP: Rene Degoumois – vocals; guitars Nicolas Gerber – keyboards Julien Vuataz – basses Patrick Dufrene – drums
Prolusion. DAWN, from Switzerland, is the new name on the progressive rock map, as “Loneliness” is the debut official release of this quartet. They also have a few demos which I’ve learned about from their website since the CD arrived without a press kit.
Analysis. By using some symphonic prog gospels, whose sources will be identified just a little below, Dawn has worked out what’s yet another apocryphal take on the genre at its canonic, i.e. its heyday. The band’s primary influences are late-‘70s Yes and The Alan Parsons Project circa “The Tales of Mystery & Imagination”, the latter manifesting itself within the first half of the album, while the former almost throughout. Overall, Julien Vuataz comes across as a faithful disciple of Chris Squire, but – when necessary – he can with ease make his bass pulsate in the manner of David Paton. To put it in a rather generalized way, keyboardist Nicolas Gerber combines Rick Wakeman’s and Eric Woolfson’s styles, drummer Patrick Dufrene those of Alan White and Stuart Tosh, and only singer/guitarist Rene Degoumois doesn’t quite match with his Yes predecessors, either Jon Anderson or Steve Howe, mostly sounding like a cross between Trevor Horn and Woolfson / Peter Banks and Ian Bairnson, respectively. Nevertheless it must also be mentioned that the musicians from time to time somehow manage to find complete originality in avoiding any comparisons at all. Well, most of this paragraph’s previous contents only concern the first three tracks: the title one, Rain on the Moon and The Brook. On each of these the band crafts full-bodied and colorful arrangements with a highly intriguing thematic evolution: think many shifts in direction and pace as well as dynamic and textural contrasts. However, the highlight of this disc would be the last-named piece. The sole instrumental track here, it is a multi-part suite of the highest caliber, a sort of fantasy-allusion on a few kindred styles, bringing together classic-bombastic Symphonic Progressive with a lot of grand, exultant Moog leads, classically-inspired Art-Rock with a Gothic feeling in places and pure Classical music – within acoustic intermezzos where the piano and guitar often interlace with each other in such a way that it reminds me of a dance of two beautiful butterflies. As a comparison, imagine something halfway between A Dream within a Dream and The Fall of the House of Usher (only without an orchestra) from the aforesaid Alan Parsons release and – overall – everything from “The Myths, etc” by Rick Wakeman, and you’ll get some-to-a-more-or-less clear idea of the epic. Unfortunately, after the disc’s imaginative equator you’ll meet up with a plain musical landscape which extends, well, down to the end of your journey. The three succeeding tracks are all mellow, slow-paced and structurally transparent, but while Loneliness and Dusk, both being reasonably short, appear as refined art-rock ballads and please the ear, The Story of Nobody is a failure. This monstrously long (17:53) piece is artificially overextended and is a boring listening affair, despite the presence of picturesque Moog, Hammond and Mellotron patterns in places as well as occasional outbursts of energy. It is especially annoying to hear the same two, whispered with pseudo-significance, words “Mister Nobody” that hover over the near-stark instrumental landscape during the whole six minutes somewhere in the middle of the opus.
Conclusion. Dawn’s debut is a good outing overall, but it would certainly have left a better impression if the dynamically evolving compositions and reflective ones had been intermixed among themselves. In any event, there is direct evidence of the group’s creative potential: the short ballads are fine compositionally, while all over the first half of the disc the musicians display a solid skill both as songwriters and players.
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